insolvency | 

Louth insurance worker’s €1m property debt written off for just €891

The insurance consultant got into financial difficulty after investing in property in his 20s

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An insurance consultant has secured a personal insolvency arrangement (PIA) which will see almost €1m in debt written off in return for a payment of just €891.

The High Court approved the PIA for Gerard Conlon (41) after hearing creditors had unanimously agreed to the arrangement despite the massive write-off involved.

The case is an illustration of the type of bad property debts, dating back well over a decade to the period before the 2008 economic crash, that are still coming before the courts.

Thanks to the debt deal, Mr Conlon, of Cox’s Demesne, Dundalk, Co Louth, will get a restructured mortgage allowing him to save his family home.

The insurance consultant got into financial difficulty after investing in property in his 20s, but it is only now that his debts have been resolved.

Under the debt deal, Mr Conlon will get a new mortgage, allowing to pay off what he owes over 29 years.

He will pay the €170,000 owed on his mortgage to Pepper Asset Servicing, even though his home is only worth €130,000.

Mr Conlon will also surrender an investment property in Dundalk.

However, over €900,000 also owed by Mr Conlon to Pepper Asset Servicing in respect of property debts will be written off, as will almost €60,000 owed to the Revenue Commissioners. The court heard the sums being written off were unsecured debts - loans or debts which were not backed by any collateral.

Unsecured creditors will end up sharing just €891.

Mr Conlon’s PIA, devised by personal insolvency practitioner Alan Clarke, was approved by Mr Justice Alexander Owens.

It was presented to the court by barrister Keith Farry, representing the practitioner.

The court heard Mr Conlon, a married father-of-one had total debts of more than €1.1m.

The vast majority of these arose after he acquired several properties between 2000 and 2008 as a co-borrower with a brother.

Property prices were extremely high at the time but following the economic downturn values plummeted and the loans became unsustainable. Most of the properties were repossessed, the court was told.

Mr Conlon ended up owing €909,000 to Pepper Asset Servicing in respect of property loans and almost €85,000 to the Revenue Commissioners.

As well as being given the opportunity to pay off his mortgage debt in full, Mr Conlon will surrender a second property, at York Street in Dundalk, worth €80,000, as full and final settlement of a debt owed on it.

Just €25,900 of the €85,000 Revenue debt is considered preferential, and this will be paid off over a 15-month period, the court heard. But the remaining sum of over €59,000 will be almost completely written off.

Mr Farry said a lump sum of €8,891 had been raised from Mr Conlon’s friends and family towards the PIA. But after the practitioner’s fee was paid, there would be just €891 left over for unsecured creditors.

“In total there is around €1m being written off in return for €891,” said Mr Farry.

The barrister explained to the judge that all qualifying creditors had voted in favour of the arrangement.

The court heard that secured creditors would receive 100pc of what they were owed under the PIA compared to just 69pc in a bankruptcy.

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